Thursday, 26 April 2012

Eritrean delights

We sit in a corner by the window. Thick clouds of just lit incense seemed almost choking as we entered - there is some irony in the fact that our entrance was delayed until a cigarette could be extinguished - but now we have become accustomed. We have explained that our friend will be late, that we will wait - immediately our server sees an opportunity. Quizzing us for what knowledge we have of Eritrea - it is now an independent country, used to be within Ethiopia - he points out that the capital of the country begins and ends with the letter 'a', and challenges us to find as many of the thirteen other capital cities of the world which possess the same quality before our friend arrives. DUB gets Abouja immediately, I Oslo and Warsaw - DUB missed Warsaw for thinking of it as Warsawa. It's a good exercise, seeing how many capitals we can recall generally, it prompts other conversations, it is indeed diverting. Offered help and stuck with only four answers we are told we need to remember the capitals of both Turkey and Ghana. We get neither, but our friend who joins us shortly after gets the latter (Accra - also contributing and Addis Abbaba with a note that it's somewhat controversial to even mention it, given where we are) while we all kick ourselves when at the end of the night our charming quizzmaster - he would appear to be a waiter but to call him such would create a false impression: the warmth he emits prompts you to engage, he makes jokes without apprehension, is briskly but pleasantly stern when appropriate, does not defer in the manner of a typical 'server'; it is most refeshing - gives us Ankara and then fills us in on the others we missed (I kick myself for failing to think of Tashkent since I once spent a curious few hours there, laying over on an Uzbekistan airways flight to Thailand).

We have come to Mosob to eat. Located near Westbourne Park tube on the Harrow Road it serves delicious Eritrean food and has an atmosphere which provokes one to do more than merely relax. Not only did conversation flow but we relaxed and played word ganes, biding our time between courses which came at just the right, relaxed pace, as if they knew exactly how long we needed to wait - as if, had we been in a hurry, the food would have arrived accordingly quickly. Creating two new hot-rockin' musical combos in name at least (C.H.E. and P.G.R.S. - Constantinople Hatstand Eviseration and Pelham Ginger Rug Snack) we were given a mint tea to finish which perfectly balanced out our constitutions after the feast we had devoured. Neither cheap nor strictly expensive for eating out in London, Mosob is a place I will, if necessary, save up to visit in the years to come.

As a final treat, we were each given a Mosob card onto which Mr Quizzmaster - the barman was equally lovely but, tonight at least, did not play raconteur - wrote our names in Ge'ez, the phoentic script used Eritrea. My one regret is that, uncharacteristically, I did not ask his name. I'm sure I will learn it, down the road.

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